Tight 'Ends Meet'

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Jon Hamlett and Richard Quinn couldn't have come from more different backgrounds. But few realize they have been roomies since the spring and are working together this fall to rejuvenate the tight end position at North Carolina.

IC's Preseason Positional Analysis:
  • Quarterbacks: Baker's Big Shot
  • Running Backs: Searching For Depth
  • Wide Receivers: Simply The Best
  • Tight Ends: Tight 'Ends' Meet
  • Defensive Line: Pieces In Place
  • Linebackers: Position Rebuilt
  • Defensive Backs: Battle For The Ball
  • Special Teams: 'Teams' Special

    "We've just taken him under our wing and tried to steer him in the right direction," Hamlett said of Quinn. "He's going to be really, really good. Once he learns what to do, he'll be unstoppable."

    But this could be Hamlett's year.

    Last season, he had the luxury of sharing time with the likes of Jacques Dumas and Scott Brummett. Yet with '04 now in the past, outside of UNC assistant head coach and tight ends coach John Gutekunst, Hamlett leads the position group.

    "I noticed that he has gotten bigger and stronger this season," Gutekunst said of Hamlett. "He's an amazing kid. He knows what everybody is supposed to do on a play. The younger kids can watch him and make sure they're right.

    "He doesn't make any mental mistakes."

    Hamlett's two career touchdown catches were crucial fourth quarter receptions in wins over N.C. State last season and East Carolina in 2003. He also caught five passes for 84 yards in the Tar Heels' memorable upset of No. 4 Miami.

    Highly recruited by Virginia and Virginia Tech, Hamlett was drawn to UNC by the opportunity to make an impact early.

    "I didn't really expect to come here and play right away," Hamlett said. "When I got in as a freshman I was just trying to catch up with the guys.

    "I've made a few catches. That was fun against Miami and State."

    Both Gutekunst and John Bunting have predicted an abundance of two-tight end sets this year. That's where senior Justin Phillips comes in. He has gone from walk-on to scholarship athlete.

    "Phillips is our moving tight end," Gutekunst said. "He's a big target. He's also gotten bigger and stronger."

    Then there is…. Shhh… Quinn.

    He's simply too advanced both physically and from a skill perspective to redshirt. His size, along with his catches in traffic during the preseason have brought "oohs and ahhs" from spectators and hushes of silence from coaches.

    Quinn is clearly the next big thing at UNC.

    "Because he was here in the spring, you forget he's a freshman," Gutekunst said. "We obviously can see his talent. He was a 220-pound wide receiver in high school. Now he's a strong, blocking tight end. And he's not at his peak yet."

    "I'm really impressed with the way he puts space on people."

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